South Carolina Secession Cockades

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On December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the United States. This was the opening step in a movement that would end with new country formed - and America's bloodiest war.

Secession fervor reached its height in South Carolina during November and December 1860. And naturally, the cockades were seen everywhere! Here's a sampling of the descriptions mentioned in the newspapers.

"Black Cockades."

These insignia of Treason are being worn in South Carolina. They are among our early remembrances, and are suggestive of every thing unpatriotic. They were worn by the opponents of Jefferson, Madison, and the Republican Party in 1808-9, as they are in hostility to Lincoln and the Republican Party in 1860. They then preceded and foreshadowed the “Hartford Convention’ of 1814, as they are now precede and foreshadow the Treasonable Gatherings of men who seek to Dissolve the Union.

Ashtabula (OH) Weekly Telegraph, 08 Dec. 1860

Business at Charleston.

The Charleston correspondent of the New York Tribune writes that Jeff. Davis continues to be the favorite candidate for the Presidency of the Southern Provisional Government. Charleston is in the most perfect tranquility; it is really painful to see this beautiful harbor entirely deserted by shipping; the quays destitute of all commercial activity; other indications of gloom seem to daily increase, in the calamities which befall the several traders, the interruptions of the pleasures of the season, and the diminution, I may say cessation, of travel from the North.

The shops which have made the most profit out of the political troubles of the time are those which sell arms, powder and cockades. Of these last articles nearly 25,000 have been sold at prices varying from 25 cents to 50 cents each, and the demand still continues, not only from the South, but for exportation to the Northern States also.

Cleveland (OH) Morning Leader, 28 Jan. 1861

South Carolina.

The cockade is made of three layers of very dark cloth, stitched at the edges and fastened together by a gilt button, on which the following appears in relief: In the center is the "Palmetto," with two arrows (crossed,) and fastened together at the point of crossing with a bow knot of ribbon. The following is the motto around the button: Animous opibusque parati - "Ready with our minds and means."

Glasgow (MO) Weekly Times, 27 Dec. 1860

The Minute Men.

We are glad to see the people of our State everywhere preparing for the crisis which is at hand. As an offset to the "Wide-Awakes" of the North, "Minute Men" are organizing in all the principal districts of South Carolina. Their object is to form an armed body of men, and to join in with our fellow-citizens, now forming in this and our sister States as "Minute Men," whose duty is to arm, equip and drill, and be ready for any emergency that may arise in the present perilous position of the Southern States. In Kershaw, Abbeville and Richland Districts the organization is already complete and powerful, embracing the flower of the youth, and led on bv the most influential citizens. The badge adopted is a blue rosette – two and a half inches in diameter, with a military button in the centre, to be worn upon the side of the hat. Let the important work go bravely on, and let every son of Carolina in prepare to mount the blue cockade. – Charleston Mercury

The Camden (SC) Weekly Journal, 23 Oct. 1860


The scarlet cockade and steel button, of which we spoke yesterday, has, we learn, been unanimously adopted by the Edgefield Riflemen, and is now a pledge by them to resist Black Republican rule in or out of South Carolina. The motto is "Blood and Steel"—a reliable cure for present troubles. We noticed yesterday quite a number of gentlemen wearing a plain blue silk ribbon on the coat lappel. The Palmetto tree, the lone star and the coiled rattlesnake, appear in gold upon the face of
the badge….

A new style of cockade has made its appearance in Charleston. It is made of Palmetto leaves plaited with a border of blue ribbon. Also another pattern - a scarlet rosette with steel button in the centre.

The (Baltimore) Daily Exchange, 19 Nov. 1860

The Carolina Cockade.

The cockade most used by the Carolinians, just now, is a little larger than a Spanish dollar, made of light-blue ribbon, with a small brass button in the center, on which is a palmetto tree surrounded with an inscription signifying: "Prepare with our fortunes, and in our minds. We pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

Cincinnati (OH) Daily Press, 19 Dec. 1860

Cockades are as plentiful as heads.

They are worn by the old and the young. Across all the streets, and from the doors of nearly all the business houses Palmetto and Lone Star flags are flying. They are to be seen upon the stage coaches, and from the heads of the omnibus horses and full length across the depot horses. It is impossible to turn any way without seeing some indication of the prevailing sentiment. Corps of Minute Men are organized in every neighborhood. The patent leather caps with the ominous "M. M," on the front, are nearly as
frequent as the cockade. I give you these things that you may form some idea of the state of feeling in South Carolina.

Nashville (TN) Union and American, 23 Nov. 1860